Let Them Go- A Pep Talk for Parents

It’s the first day of the first week of September. Which, in many places, means kids have gone back to school for the first time this fall. For others, this is their first day of school ever.  Or their first day of high school, first day of college, first day of university or tech school.

In our house, this is the FIRST time in 17 years I have only one kid in secondary school. We are now  a household of 3 graduated kids. That really did come faster than I imagined it 20 years ago. The days are so so SO long when the kids are in school but the years start to fly by when they all hit junior high.

We are also rookie parents of a college kid.  Our 3rd born, the one who just graduated in June, is starting school in BC today. We are so excited for her and her journey. EXCITED, not nervous, not stressed, not sad, not lamenting the years that have flown by….just excited.

Listen moms(and dads), I get it. These precious ones are your babies. You nurtured them and held them when they were sick. But the day they were born you KNEW you’d have to let them go at some point.  You knew it because you’ve lived it yourself. No one wants to be their mama’s baby forever.  No one wants to be coddled and hovered over for life.  Our babies were born to live. And living means they HAVE to grow.

None of us are really living if we’re not growing.

So ya, I get it, your little muffin let go of your fingers today and ran straight through the doors of that brick and concrete building today and a part of you thinks you’re not ready. But you were BORN READY.  You can do this.

We had a couple of weeks to say goodbye to our daughter who we knew was going to drive herself through 3 provinces to a new city, new surroundings and new school.  But I wasn’t really prepared for the shock, sometimes horror that people shared with us when we told them our 18 year old daughter was going to drive by herself in her little car.  People couldn’t wrap their heads around how we could ” let her” do that.

Pardon me if I’m a little confused but didn’t we just invest 18 years of teaching, molding, encouraging and preparing her to do just that? We have always taught our kids to be self-confident; able to trouble shoot and make wise decisions. I’m so happy each of our 4 kids have oodles of confidence. We have done a lot of things wrong but we have managed to get that right. It didn’t occur to us that she couldn’t. It didn’t occur to her that she couldn’t. Was she nervous? A little. But she was mostly excited. On Friday, a few hours before I knew she needed to get to sleep so she was fresh on Saturday morning, I quietly asked her if she was scared to drive that whole way (1600km) by herself? She said she wasn’t. She said she just really wanted to get going. So I didn’t press the issue. If I would have- If I would have said ” it’s going to be scary”  or “you’ve never driven in the mountains- I don’t know if you can handle it” ….I would have been planting within her the seed of doubt. And we all know that one tiny seed of doubt will triple in size before you get your feet off the ground.

 

She drove herself. The first day was hard- she said mostly because it was so boring. The second day, the one we were all a little worried about, was easier because it was all new. All new, all beautiful, all exciting. She had to stay focused. She stopped when she needed to and let us know where she was. She paid attention to signs, didn’t fall  into the trap of speeding like so many others were. She let them pass her, drove what was comfortable for her and got to her destination before sunset. That was the goal. Yes, she did admit the last 3 hours were hard as the highway was difficult. But you know what? She did it!  My dad said that was the best thing for her. It’s the true pioneer spirit of our forefathers. You go, you do what you have to do and you don’t worry about the details.

Speaking of my dad, he was 15 when he left home. Took a bus and then a train to the far north to work hard, hard long days.  Very little to eat. He was FIFTEEN. No cell phones. No phone to call home. He wrote letters to his mom. He was homesick. He was so young. And it made him into a self-reliant, self-confident, trouble-shooting, capable, reliable adult.

I feel often that we as parents are holding our kids back from their natural, God-given abilities. They are meant to grow and thrive. When a baby begins to walk, they don’t worry about falling down…they keep going. When they are pre-schoolers who want to read they inquire and pretend until they begin to learn and develop a life-long skill of reading language. How marvelous and miraculous is that? It’s really amazing!

When we walk our little ones to the gate of the school on the first day, we willingly let them go into a classroom FULL OF STRANGERS for hours and hours every day and week! Guys! Think about this! We have been doing hard things as parents for all the years since that first pregnancy test came back positive! WE have been letting go.

We as parents are hard-wired to let go. It may not always be easy.  The first drive with a rookie driver is a little bit of white-knuckling, hold your tongue, try not to scream tension.But then, 3 weeks later we are sitting there on our phone scrolling through FB memes because our kid has this and we’re just a passenger.

Moms….let go. Have a coffee with a friend, go to the bookstore, go to the fabric store. Clean out that closet you don’t want the kids to see so they won’t know all the stuff of theirs you’re throwing out. Just go do something. Your kids are okay. They’re doing what they were born to do.  They’re living.

Mama birds don’t mess around- the baby birds get pushed right out of the nest and they’ll fall or they’ll fly. But they were born to fly so they will fly.

Your kids were born to run, to grow, to learn to live.  You’ve done your part. Now let them go.

Happy first day of school everyone.  I just blogged for the first time in 18 months. So basically….I’m winning on this first Tuesday of September.

 

 

A Growing Intolerance for Children

Is it me, or are people in general becoming more intolerant of small children?  And not just small children, but moms with small children.

Perhaps it’s the *hide-behind-your-keyboard* syndrome of saying anything you want but I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter especially from people who clearly think children should NOT be seen and definitely NOT heard.

Now, I’m old school and I like it when parents have control of their kids.  I’m the mom who has walked out of a grocery store with a full cart ready for the cashier when all hell broke loose and the animals left their cages.  I have told my kids I won’t put up with temper tantrums and ridiculous outbursts in stores or restaurants. In fact, there was a season in our lives where we rarely went out to eat because I fully believe the other patrons have a right to eat their meals in relative peace.

However, recently there have been a rash of reports and stories of restaurants implementing adult-only dinner hours or even some that are exclusively adult only restaurants.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there but this is a trend that may not be all that family friendly. (which is probably the point)  Of course, businesses have a right to cater to whomever they wish. And I’m all for the market deciding who wins and who loses.

But what about walking in malls? Or grocery shopping on Saturdays when it’s busy?  Or perhaps even home shows and exhibit halls?  Should there be a ban on any child under 7? Should strollers be banned? This is some of the complaining that I am seeing and hearing about.  People who don’t have children are becoming more vocal about their dislike of little people *ruining* their days off. They don’t want to go to parks and hear a wailing toddler. They don’t want to go to Starbucks and stand in line behind a mom with a baby on her hip. They don’t want to enter the bookstore if there’s a mom with a stroller heading in right in front of them.  And I find it all a little baffling.

Since when did children become enemies?  Perhaps these anti-child Debby-Downers have forgotten that they too, were once children.  Perhaps they have failed to see that children are our future. Maybe they don’t realize that if Mama doesn’t get to go to  the bookstore today, she might be housebound and depressed all week. And maybe they’re completely oblivious to the fact that small children don’t grow up to be well-behaved older children and teens unless they are given the opportunities and the freedom to be in all the big-people restaurants, stores and events.  A child doesn’t just wake up at the age of 12 and know how to act in public. They are taught. They are allowed to fail and they are given grace to learn from their mistakes and outbursts.

The tone of the conversation I was a part of yesterday on Twitter took direct aim at parents with double wide strollers out in public. Specifically, a crowded exhibit hall on the weekend apparently was the site of such strollers with too many people and some put-out show goers.  Some of the comments were directly bashing a parent’s choice to go out with their two little children to a place where “the kids couldn’t possibly be having fun.” And the “selfishness” of parents to not consider a crowded aisle and how inconvenient it was for the browsers.  First of all, if you haven’t had 2 little kids under 3 and haven’t been out with them for more than an hour, you probably aren’t the best judge of what is convenient.  As for the concept that 2 parents want to spend time out together at a SPRING HOME SHOW on a weekend after one of the longest, snowiest, coldest winters ever and take their kids with them as being wrong is frustrating and frankly, offensive. I remember a time when I had my first 2 (13 months apart) and they LOVED going out just to look at people and get a change of scenery. We didn’t have family where we lived and we couldn’t afford a sitter. And truthfully, we wanted to spend time with our kids out and about together. With Daddy working all week and me housebound, these were rare, fun occasions. We didn’t do it all the time. We didn’t assume we could go anywhere with our kids. We usually chose the roomy sidewalks of a park, a big mall or large department stores.  If an exhibit hall or showcase or event wants to limit the size of strollers or even ban them, I’m actually fine with that.  But if they haven’t, step aside. Mama is a-comin’.

I’m sure there are small strollers that are relatively cheap. I’m sure there are double income families who can afford 2 or 3 strollers.  We were not that family. Our stroller was a gift. And I used it through 4 children.Our first 2 were 13 months apart, then 2.5 years between #2 and #3 so we used it again. And then my last 2 were 20 months apart.   It was well worn out by the time I retired it.  We didn’t have family who could look after our kids whenever we wanted to go out and even if we did, I would still not dump my kids off every time I left the house.  I loved our double stroller and so did our kids. I could reach them both while still pushing(as opposed to a tandem where you simply can’t reach the front).

I’m all for a quiet dinner out. But I always give the mom and dad with toddlers  in the booth next to us a knowing smile and the encouragement they need to understand they’re not alone and “this too shall pass.”  Babies and toddlers grow up so fast and no, I don’t think they or we are entitled to go everywhere and do everything. I believe there is a time and a place for outings and most of the time, little ones are happier at home. However, to extract one incident and blow it up into a *double strollers should be banned or left for the dog park* philosophy is overkill and unfair to moms who simply want to have a day out with their family.

You know what’s annoying? The fact that I have pics of my kids in our fantastic double stroller and I can’t find a single one today! So here’s one off the ‘net which is identical to the one we had(except ours was circa 1996 with a brighter blue).  

Tell me-does this look like a threat to the peace and well-being of an afternoon stroll? I didn’t think so!

SUPER{sick}MOM

I was diagnosed with MS a few days after my oldest son turned 1. It was completely devastating. I was 23 and I thought my life was over. Over the next 3 years, I was told that I shouldn’t have more children, and that I needed to begin a treatment plan – which included giving myself a needle every day. Okay, let’s rabbit trail for just a minute here. A NEEDLE? Every day?! I was the kid in elementary school who threw a FIT on needle day. In Grade 6 I scared just about everyone in the class because I had to be held down by 2 people in order to get one teeny tiny needle in my arm. I HATE needles. Continue reading